Educational farms and gardens are complex entities to manage, regardless of mission, setting, or scale. They demand a diverse array of skills and expertise. Managers face unique challenges in the visioning, planning, budgeting, structuring, governance, oversight, finances, fundraising, educational integration, curricular development, socioeconomic & food justice issues institutional engagement & support, food service linkages, marketing options, risk management, and surrounding community needs–not to mention the management of landscape, infrastructure, plants, and livestock!–of these living and dynamic entities.
Managing in isolation, without experienced mentors, can challenge even the most talented of educational farm and garden managers. In contrast, working with colleagues or boards that represent diverse experiences and perspectives offers a whole different set of challenges. Comparing these experiences and methodically analyzing the successes and challenges of different types and scales of operations provides managers with the opportunity to develop “best practices” that are the right fit for their unique educational farm and garden operations.
Blending expert instruction with peer-to-peer dialogue and inquiry, this Professional Certificate program features cohort-based learning over six months, providing educational farm and garden managers with a unique opportunity to hone their management skills while enhancing not just their operations but, just as importantly, their educational impact. Not only does this professional certificate program provide critical professional development opportunity for managers, it also serves a significant training service for employers and sponsoring organizations.
Students picking sugar snap peas in the Sterling Garden
The Sterling College Farm
photo of students in the Sterling College Whole Farm Thinking course exploring and analyzing a Vermont farm.
Who is this Certificate For?
This Professional Certificate program is designed specifically for persons managing educational farms and gardens of all types and scales. Managers of all types of educational farms and gardens will benefit, including but not limited to the following types of operations:
- College and university farms
- Community farms and gardens
- Living history museums
- School farms and gardens
- Therapeutic farms
- Specialized training farms
- Social care farms
- Seed-saving farms
- Permaculture farms and gardens
- Religious/Spiritually-based farms
- Summer camp farms and gardens
- Food security farms
Why A Professional Certificate?
The value of the Professional Certificate is enhanced by Sterling College’s reputation for experiential farm-based education, guided by faculty and staff with decades of educational farm management experience not only at Sterling but also throughout the US and abroad.
Students pursuing the Professional Certificate will work with School of the New American Farmstead staff to create a Professional Portfolio demonstrating successful completion of their coursework, attainment of certificate learning objectives, and related professional experience and aspirations. This portfolio may be used both in job searches and to demonstrate competency and completion to current employers.
Additionally, all students who have completed a School of the New American Farmstead course are invited to join our closed Facebook group to maintain contact with fellow alumni and our teaching network.
Students successfully completing this Professional Certificate will demonstrate the following capacities:
If the tasks of raising healthy food aren’t daunting enough, educational farm and garden managers are also tasked with germinating successful educational programs, raising infrastructure, caring for staff, growing budgets, cultivating boards, and building community. Few jobs demand such a diverse array of skills, and few persons have the background or training to perform each of those tasks well, much less do them all almost simultaneously.
During the last month of the course, students will develop and submit their assigned project and Professional Portfolio, which includes the following materials:
- Professional Certificate Self-Assessment Essay
- Professional Statement
- Multi-media documentation of skills and proficiencies
Collectively, these materials will provide a thorough assessment and documentation of your skills and expertise for use both in job searches and negotiations with current employers.
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